South Dakota Shakespeare Festival

Receives $5,000 through

Gannett Foundation Initiative

2021 Season Announced

SDSF 2021 Postcard FRONT 3.png

Twelfth Night, or What You Will

The SDSF is excited to announce we are planning to move forward with a professional production of Twelfth Night, or What You Will, in Vermillion’s Prentis Park, June 17-20, 2021. In light of the COVID-19 environment, the rehearsal and production process will be carefully and responsibly mitigated.

Executive Artistic Director Chaya Gordon-Bland looks forward to returning to live performances: “In considering our production for this summer, there was an overwhelming consensus within the company that it was important to produce a joyful and uplifting comedy. This has been such a challenging and stressful time in the world. The SDSF wants to bring joy to people’s lives, and help support health, happiness, and healing for our communities through theatre. Twelfth Night is a delightful and uplifting comedy, chock full of music, playful antics, delicious language, and nuanced explorations of human relationships.”

The play will be directed by Oliver Mayes, who is in the midst of finishing his MFA in Directing at the University of South Dakota. He is excited for his first post-grad school gig: “I am thrilled to be working with the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival. Their commitment to accessibility and engaging with communities is something I deeply admire; I look forward to collaborating on a production of Twelfth Night that is truly a communal experience.”

Mayes finds special resonance with this play: “Twelfth Night, or What You Will is a play full of invitations. It invites us to examine the power of love and desire, and how that unpredictable power can bring forth conflict for societal constructs such as class and gender roles. That’s intense thinking for a comedy! But William Shakespeare has gifted us with a theatrical experience that beautifully provokes deep thought through laughter and joy.”

Throughout rehearsals and performances, the SDSF will implement an array of mitigation techniques, including de-densification, distancing, use of masks, and thorough sanitation. The production in the park will take place for a live audience as well as via a streaming platform. The SDSF is also planning safe and responsible arts education programming in collaboration with our various outreach partners. Through our programs, the SDSF strives to improve and expand arts education for K-12 students and increase quality of life for youth and adults throughout southeast South Dakota. In fulfillment of the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival’s values of access and inclusion, all programming will be free and open to the public.

Photo from youth workshop
About Us


The mission of the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival is to engage, connect, and inspire communities by exploring our shared human experiences through inclusive, professional Shakespeare productions and theatre arts education.


SDSF’s 2021 season is supported, in part, by the Gannett Foundation, South Dakota Arts Council, City of Vermillion, Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company, United Way of Vermillion, and the University of South Dakota.




Brian Smallwood Hired as Director of Operations and Production

The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) is pleased to announce the hiring of Brian Smallwood as Director of Operations and Production (DOP). The DOP oversees the planning of the production process in collaboration with the Executive Artistic Director and Production Director.

Smallwood has project managed as a Technical Director and Production Manager for dozens of Off and Off-Off Broadway companies. He co-founded a production company called No Time for Love Productions, with clients like the Ma-Yi Theater Company, New York Musical Festival, New York Photo Festival, and Second Stage. He graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 2013 with an MFA in Technical Design and Production.

Smallwood is currently an Associate Professor and Production Manager for James Madison University’s School of Theatre and Dance. His research interests include structural engineering for production and increasing productivity through employee wellness. In his role as DOP, Smallwood will work in Vermillion during rehearsal and production, and remotely the rest of the year.

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The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival strives to make our programs accessible to everyone.

For more information, questions, or to request accommodations, please contact us at (605) 622-0423, or